Travel magazine

WH Smith sees recovery in coming months and reports ‘small’ impact from Omicron

WH Smith said it expects a recovery in its travel markets over the next few months, although the retailer added that the business was experiencing a “small impact” from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The company, which sells books, stationery and other items through its stores located in travel hubs, said revenue for the 20 weeks to January 15 was 85% of sales for the corresponding period in 2019. .

In November, the group said sales were expected to return to pre-COVID levels this year.

Extended store closures

Most retailers, including WH Smith, which have a large number of physical stores, are going through turbulent times as stores have had to be closed for extended periods due to coronavirus lockdowns, while new travel restrictions following an increase in COVID-19 cases is putting additional pressure on these companies.

“We are pleased with the progress made by the group during the period,” group chief executive Carl Cowling said in a statement, adding that the company’s retail and online businesses performed well.

Revenues for Travel UK and all of North America for the period were 70% and 92%, respectively, of pre-pandemic levels.

Omicron concerns

The group’s revenue had reached 90% of 2019 levels in November before falling to 87% in December as the spread of the Omicron variant came back to haunt retailers.

WH Smith said it had opened 16 of 30 InMotion technology stores at UK airports and planned to open the rest, including more stores at London Heathrow and Gatwick airports, ahead of the peak trading period in the summer months.

“Looking forward, although we see a slight impact from the Omicron variant, we expect a recovery in the recovery of our travel markets over the coming months,” Cowling added. “We are well positioned for the key travel trade period this summer and the continued recovery in our markets.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. For more retail news, click here. Click subscribe to register ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes